Steven Quartz uses the latest neuroscience advances to understand fundamental questions of the mind. His broader goal is to incorporate these tools into novel approaches to study the humanities and social sciences, in fields such as neuroethics, neuroaesthetics, and neuroeconomics. His research focuses on the brain's value systems and how they interact with culture to create moral, political, and economic lives. For example, he explores individual differences in moral judgment and behavior, how those differences are reflected neurologically, and how they give rise to diverse moral lives. He's also interested in how brain systems that evolved to solve central problems of social life drive contemporary consumer culture.
His research uses a variety of techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), computational modeling, and experimental neurobiology. At the lowest levels of decision making, studies from his lab have shown that sensory integration—deciding whether visual and auditory information comes from a single source—is statistically optimal from a Bayesian perspective. At the level of social interaction, studies from his lab have used a novel fMRI approach called hyperscanning, in which several people are scanned while interacting in real time, to study the neural correlates of trust, strategic choice, and how social influences profoundly affect the expression of IQ.
Quartz is the principal investigator of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant-supported program Brain, Mind, and Society, which provides students with the analytic foundations and the experimental skills needed to pursue careers at the intersection of neuroscience and the social sciences. Quartz was previously a Sloan Research Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the recipient of a NSF CAREER award. He is the coauthor of Liars, Lovers, and Heroes: What the New Brain Science Reveals About How We Become Who We Are and is working on two more books.